'Tall Tee' honours St Mary GSAT students
CASTLETON, St Mary:
A dozen high-scoring Grade Six Achievement Test (GSAT) students from Castleton, St Mary, were honoured with awards and $5,000 each last week, thanks to a new education initiative launched by a US-based philanthropist.
The Tall Tee Sports Foundation's Exceptional Academic Achievement Awards, which took place at the Tapioca Village Retreat in Castleton, also acknowledged teachers and learning institutions by donating a boombox to Castleton Basic School, and a computer, laminating machine, and projector to Castleton Primary and Junior High School.
After the inaugural ceremony, Raymond 'Tall Tee' Smith, who lives in New Jersey, but grew up in Castleton in the 1980s, said he produced the event to give something back to the community that helped him to migrate and start a new life in the US.
He told Rural Xpress: "Today, we had an awards ceremony for children who did well in their GSAT. We just wanted to show them that we see the work they're putting in and are trying to encourage them to shoot for even higher heights.
"As a Jamaican who went to America as a 22-year-old, I soon realised that my native land is heaven, like a goldmine. This community helped me with a farm work card to get to America where I've been for almost 30 years now, and for last 14, I've tried to come and give back what I got from this community.
"The children are my future and for me to survive when I retire, I will need them to be strong and well-educated. Right now, a lot of Jamaican youths are clinging to drugs, guns, smoking weed, and drinking, which is the wrong way. For our country to strive and be better, we have to re-educate the children. We have to go back to basics."
Smith, who plans to expand the event in 2017, thinks all Jamaicans living abroad should contribute to the development of their hometowns and believes football is a powerful vehicle that can be used to engage and unify young men from warring communities.
He explained: "Participation doesn't always have to be financial; sometimes your support is enough. And it's wrong to travel to England, America, Canada and these places and come back to hype on the people here. You have to remember, the same people going up the ladder are the same ones you meet when you're coming back down.
"And where sport is concerned, football is a tool you can use to unite youths because every child needs an outlet, and once they have sport, they will always train together. And if they know they're gonna have a match on Saturday, they have something to work towards. I really think that every community should have some form of athletics or sports going on because it's one of the biggest weapons that can help unite our youths."